Never has the subject of immune systems and immune support been such a hot topic as it has been over the past two years.
With awareness around new, or existing ailments, there are certain things we can do to give us the confidence in the miraculous system we are born with…our natural immune system!
In the book Boost Your Child’s Immune System By Lucy Burney, she lists the five key ingredients of a healthy immune system as (yes for children, however, this is relevant to all ages)
- Clean air
- Clean water
- Immune-boosting diet
In this blog post, we are going to focus on the diet side of things. You can start incorporating these as a holistic way in taking personal responsibility of your winter wellbeing.
Antioxidant Rich Foods
These are probably no stranger to you if you are reading this piece, but it’s a nice reminder to make sure we are getting plenty in.
Antioxidants are like the bouncer, or security guard, at the door of your club. They help to prevent the unwanted guests, the free radicals, from causing problems inside. Unfortunately, free radicals can come from all angles, not only in the form of oxidation, but also from stress, air pollution, inadequate, or insufficient breathing, as well as food that isn’t so nutritious such as fast food and highly processed items.
By eating foods rich in antioxidants, we are better equipped for these guys show up. Not only is organic the primary focus, so we are reducing the chemical load form agricultural chemicals, but foods rich in dark natural colours are a good indication of their antioxidant levels. To follow are some foods as a good source of antioxidants…
- Dark berries, such as blueberries, blackcurrants, acai, maqui, and dark leafy greens
- Pasture raised eggs and oily, sustainably caught fish, which are rich in Vitamin A
- Foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus, and broccoli
- Foods rich in Zinc, such as shellfish, pulses, seeds, particularly pumpkin seeds
Healthy Fat Rich Foods
For the last 50 years, especially women, have developed a fear of foods high in fat. It is important to remember that not all fats are created equal, and there’s a reason why they are called essential fatty acids – because they are essential! Our body cannot produce them. If you experience low energy, constant hunger, dry skin, and brain fog, there is a good chance that your body is needing some extra fat added.
Foods such as the following are a really nourishing way to get more in…
- Avocado, I am sure we don’t need more encouragement to enjoy this wonderful fruit!
- Flaxseeds are a really great source, particularly for female wellness. Enjoy the Ceres Organics ground flaxseed, or one of the functional food blends to get this in daily.
- Sustainably caught oily fish. Sardines are a good one as because they are such a small fish, therefore naturally lower in mercury.
- Hemp seeds and hemp seed oil.
- Evening primrose oil
- Cod liver oil
Inflammation in the body can cause all sorts of issues, and it takes energy away from where we want it, trying to put out the fire so to speak.
Again, things like stress, outside pollutants, and inadequate breathing can be problematic to levels of inflammation, so we want to incorporate plenty of down time, and counter the effected breathing if you wear a mask, by having some down-time, time in nature, and breathwork. For foods to include you can start with…
- Oily fish, rich in omega 3
- Ginger, spray free or organically grown
- Turmeric, spray free or organically grown
- Almonds and walnuts, also rich in omega 3
- Try a wellness tonic using turmeric, ginger, a little honey, Ceres Organics apple cider vinegar and a few drops of hemp seed oil, along with some organic orange juice to start the day
By choosing organic, wholefoods, that require little, or no ingredients lists, this is a good indication that you are not only giving your body food that it easily recognises, but also foods that are well digested. By minimising the work of digestion, you are leaving more energy to the job of protection. A lot of energy is required by the body for digestion alone, and the more processed, and artificial the food becomes, the more is needed to process. There is a philosophy that if there are ingredients that your grandmother wouldn’t recognise, then it’s best to avoid. Many chemicals, preservatives, flavourings, colourings and additives that have been incorporated into the food we eat over the past 50 years were not known or heard of back in the day. In the name of making things brighter, more flavoursome, and with longer shelf lives, come a compromise once it hits our digestive tract. Another saying…keep it simple!
Another hot topic over the past few years, but certainly not a new one. Fermented foods have been used for many generations, long before the mention of probiotic pills!
We have come to fear germs, much like fat, but the truth is, we are made up of more bacterial cells than human cells! Like anything, there is a difference between the “good” and “bad” bacteria.
There have been many studies that show a direct link to the health of the gut and its correlation to the health of the person. The better the gut, the better you feel and function.
Foods to look for to encourage a healthy and diverse microflora in the gut are…
- Fermented, raw, unpasteurised things such as kimchi, sauerkraut and kefir.
- Probiotic rich foods such as natural yoghurts and if you need to, supplements. The key is to look for a wide range of “strains” rather than a higher bacterial count. Our gut flora contains millions and millions of strains, so it is near on impossible to get all we need from one probiotic pill. A little tip is to go for width of scope (more strains) rather than depth (higher count), which can be helped by the diversification of sources.
- Raw, unpasteurised Organic Apple Cider Vinegar such as the Ceres Organics blend made from New Zealand apples. Include this in tonics, dressings and even a dash in smoothies.
- Oil fish such as salmon (are you noticing a theme here?! Many of the foods mentioned tick off all the boxes!)
- Organic bone broth. If you cannot stomach making your own, there are a few brands that you can buy ready made. Broth has been used for many generations as a healing and nourishing gut food, and healing for people that suffer with SIBO and leaky gut.
As we head into the cooler, wetter winter months, have fun with supporting your immune system with some of these delicious foods. There are loads of recipes on the blog to help you on your way, and here’s to a well winter!
Written by Sarah Tanner